Many are offering false hope to save our society. To the drunk, the world says it is not his fault; it is a disease or an addiction. He cannot control himself. Society must save him! Society says, “We want to help you. We have groups to support you. We will help you manage this problem.” Why does this reveal false hope? Because the same groups will say to the alcoholic, “You will always be an alcoholic. You will never get rid of this, but we can teach you how to manage it.” God is much more gracious than that! He offers a cure–Jesus.
Looking back 50 years, we can evaluate the combined efforts of the medical, social, educational, governmental, legal, and theological professions. The combined impact on society has been negative. There are exceptions here and there, but in general, human misery has worsened.
False or Real Hope
We have listened to the message of this world so long that we can no longer distinguish the difference between false hope and the Word of God. What would God say in our day concerning alcoholism? In the New and Old Testament it is never referred to as alcoholism. It is never referred to as a disease. Drunkenness is always referred to as sin. If alcoholism is sin, there is no human remedy. Thanks be to God that His Son Jesus offers full and abundant life, not the condemnation of an incurable disorder.
Yet, we as human beings are offering false hope in our world by using a worldly way of thinking. To the person addicted to some substance we say, “We’ll teach you how to manage this, but you can never get rid of it, for if you ever get around it again it will come right back on you. You see, this is a disease for which we have no cure.” However, if alcoholism is what God says it is–drunkenness–there is a cure. Jesus Christ can cure the alcoholic. He can remove the sin from a person. You simply must decide whether you believe the Word or the world.
Real Hope Has Real Answers
One year I counseled almost a hundred families who came to church every week, yet their marriages were falling apart. Most of these people had already been to every other source looking for help–the marriage therapist, the family therapist, support groups, even to studies within our own church. They had been to psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors. Is it wrong to turn to these sources for help? The answer depends on whether or not they are based on the world or the Word.
People often come to me and other biblical counselors as a last resort. “We need help with our marriage,” they say. But their marriage is not their problem. Their problem is personal sin. The world would say, “Kerry, you’re being too harsh, telling people that the problem in their marriage is sin and repentance is the solution. You need to help them work through these everyday struggles in their marriage. It may take months of convincing them to stay together to work it out. You should offer them two years of counseling to get them back in shape.” That is the world’s approach.
I believe that offers a false hope. How many couples do you know who, in the midst of contemplating divorce, will go through two years of counseling? They are already struggling and will find it impossible to last. That is the false hope of our day. If the wife’s heart is right toward God, and the husband’s heart is right toward God, their marriage is open to God’s healing. The Word of God tells us one thing, but the false prophets of our day tell us another. Any advice not based on the Word of God will bring false hope.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jer. 23:16).
The world is doing the best they know how to offer help. However, it is from their own minds that they offer wisdom. According to the verse above, the very same thing took place in Jeremiah’s day. As Christians in our day, we must decide whether God’s Word supersedes everything else on the bookstore shelf.
I walked into a bookstore in downtown Atlanta just to see what was on the shelves. I went to the “Self Help” section. Would you believe that this section was almost the largest in the entire store? There were helps to improve one’s self, one’s attitudes, one’s health, and one’s job satisfaction. As I looked at some of these, I began to see a picture of the false thinking of our day.
Self-gratification is another false hope we have in our day–anything that gratifies me, that improves me, no matter what it does to people around me.
They continually say to those who despise Me, “The Lord has said, ‘You shall have peace’; and to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you’” (Jer. 23:17).
Our lives have been so so saturated by the media and the teachings of our day to believe our salvation is within ourselves, our attitudes, and positive thinking. Is it possible that we have spent more time studying these sources than we have spent searching the Word of God? If so, the result will be that we get mixed up about right and wrong, true and false. We do not know enough about God and His Word to know His answer to our personal and social problems.
As a result, hardness of heart comes to the Christian. While divorce, teenage suicide, AIDS, and adultery have come into the church, many have no grief in their hearts. Sensitivity needs to be renewed in the church. The true hope of Jesus Christ needs to be proclaimed. The focus of our message should be the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!